May 19, 2020
It turns out that a global pandemic doesn’t serve as much of an aphrodisiac—and certainly not as an incentive to start a family, researchers at the University of Florence recently discovered.
Many have speculated that couples who are stuck at home 24/7 would spend at least a little of their time “schtupping”— leading to an influx of new births over the coming year.
However, the academic researchers conducted 1,482 online interviews on parenthood desires and beliefs during this pandemic, according to a report by Study Finds—and over 81% of respondents said they are not looking to conceive while COVID-19 is wreaking havoc across the globe.
But that doesn’t mean that they weren’t considering starting a family before the virus struck: Moreover, 268 of the respondents admitted that before COVID-19 emerged on the world stage they had been planning on having a new child. Now, however, 37.3% of that group have shelved that idea for the time being.
Fully 58% are worried about the future economy and another 58% expressed concern about possible coronavirus-related pregnancy complications.
The survey, which comprised 944 Italian women and 538 Italian men, was carried out during the southern European nation’s third week of lockdown. All respondents were between the ages of 18 and 46, and had been in a stable heterosexual relationship for at least one year.
Dr. Elisabetta Micelli, the study’s main author, speculates that mental health is playing a big role in many peoples’ decision to delay having a child.
“The impact of the quarantine on general population’s perception of their stability and peacefulness is alarming. In our study sample, the majority of participants gave significantly higher total scores to their mental well-being before the pandemic, while lowest scores were reported in the answers referred to the COVID-19 period,” she says in a statement. “We aimed to evaluate if pandemic-related concerns and worries are affecting the desire for parenthood in couples who were already planning to have a child or if quarantine is encouraging reproductive desire.
“Interestingly, although almost half of the people referred no interruption in their job activity and no variations of salaries, probably due to the ‘smart working’ adapting strategy, over 40% of participants reported a worrying reduction of monthly profits. Remarkably, the fear of imminent and future economic instabilities led those who were searching for a pregnancy to stop their intention in 58% of cases,” she explains.
To be fair, of the 268 people who said they were planning on having a child, 60% are still trying to conceive. The research team theorize that fear of infertility in the future is probably why that group hasn’t allowed COVID-19 to stop their immediate dreams of starting a family.
Additionally, just because most people don’t want to have a child right now, that doesn’t mean they’ve dropped the idea altogether. In fact, 11.5% (140) of respondents said they want to have a baby in the future more than ever before. Most of that group was female, and when asked why they want to have a baby more than before the pandemic, 50% cited “the will for change” and 40% said “the need for positivity.” However, only 4.3% of those 140 participants are actively trying to become pregnant during lockdown.
“Again, fear of consequences on pregnancy in addition to the economic impact on families are probably the reasons why almost the whole group of couples who unexpectedly started to express a desire for parenthood during quarantine did not translate this dream into a concrete attempt,” comments study co-author Dr. Gianmartin Cito.
What about overall sexual activity? Are couples spending more time between the sheets these days? For the most part, it seems sex frequency has gone unchanged; 66.3% of respondents who were not interested in having children before or during this pandemic indicated that their bedroom habits haven’t changed
Research contact: Study Finds